Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear goes in depth into the difference between motion and action. Motion is essential to gaining an understanding of the situation, knowing risks and potential pathways. Motion greatly increases your chance of success. But as John Wooden said, “Never mistake activity for achievement.” You can have as much motion as you want but without taking action, you will never achieve your goals. A plan without action is only a dream.
On the other hand, you can take action and be incredibly busy DOING the wrong stuff. Again, never achieving your goals.”If you fail to plan you are planning to fail,” was credited to Benjamin Franklin and appropriate for one of the leading intellects of his day. But he was also a man of action and achievement.
It May Not Be Right, But It’s Not Wrong
When faced with a decision in which I don’t see a clear option or answer in front of me, I pose this question “it may not be right, but is it wrong?” I have used this principle successfully throughout my career because it moves us from our current position. Maybe not on the correct path, but if it’s not wrong then it definitely isn’t a step backwards. It may be to the side or a roundabout way to get there, but there are benefits through taking action.
Planning & Re-Planning - Caught in Motion
Reflecting on examples in the workplace, you can imagine the challenge when a customer negotiates a larger safety stock of products that will require you to expand your storage area beyond your current capability. A facility expansion was not part of your strategic plan going forward.
So now what?
You can go full Ben Franklin and start the motion train for your planning process. Set up meetings with cross functional teams. Assess your current capabilities and see what areas can be used that meet code, where can you upgrade, where could you expand and build. You will have to revisit all of the capital planning activity and rework the budget to identify when you could squeeze in another building.
Then once you have identified some potential avenues through multiple meetings you begin the painstaking quote gathering process that changes weekly with dangerously long lead times. Oh, and you’re doing this while moving forward on all of the other projects. But now, you can at least put together a proposal for review with management. Then redo it with their input and repeat the process again. All of this before you ever get back to the customer with a “yes, but…” or some other negotiation of time.
Just Get it Done - Take Action
Or, while putting things into motion (which we already established is critical to the success of a projection) we can take action that comes from a simple question.
“How do we get additional capacity today?” What? Today? No way!!!! Correct, but the time period is not critical by itself, it is the call to action that is important. By stating today, it reinforces the need for action, not just planning.
That question leads to two quick possible solutions:
Find someone who has additional capacity and rent space
Bring in a storage pod and park at our facility
Is the problem solved? Not necessarily, but we do have containment in place like you find in your 8D problem solving approach. The call to action puts us in a position to meet the customers' needs in the near term, buying us time to evaluate a longer term, optimal solution that can be more cost effective, strategic and lean.
While some are talking, others are doing. While some are planning, others are executing. While some are in motion, others are taking action. In a company, some positions naturally spend more time in motion to support those who are spending more time in action and that balance, as we talked earlier, is critical to the overall success. It is not either/or, it is both.
It’s interesting how this is clear and comfortable for me in my role at work for the most part, but I know I have been guilty of giving responses to the Owner such as “We are meeting next week...” or “We are talking with our vendors…” or “We are planning to …”. In those instances, I’m stuck in motion with too little action.
I struggle with this more in my personal life. I’m sure my wife is reading this and mentally ticking off all of the things I have not completed due to overthinking and planning. I share this so you understand it’s not easy for everyone in every situation. It’s a lot of work. It’s scary. It’s like jumping off the bluff into the water. But if you don’t jump, if you don’t take ACTION, you don’t feel the excitement. Motion with Action is what is needed to move Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.